In the aftermath of last weekend’s terrible bus crash in the Bronx, elected officials are calling on the federal government to examine whether enough is being done to ensure passenger safety. The driver, Ophadill Williams, has a checkered past. NTSB investigators are looking into whether he should have been behind the wheel and whether his actions might have contributed to the accident, which killed 15 people.
Yesterday at City Hall, Senator Chuck Schumer, Rep. Nydia Velazquez and City Councilmember Margaret Chin said the time has come to take a hard look at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which oversees the tour bus industry.
“These low-cost tour bus companies have an increasingly alarming safety record that should give pause to federal regulatory agencies,” Schumer said. “The safety regime in place is not sufficiently doing the job of protecting passengers.”
Six years ago, after a series of bus crashes, Schumer urged regulators to “hire more inspectors, provide greater disclosure of safety rankings to customers, and more aggressively provide oversight of bus drivers.” But it appears those calls were largely ignored.
Last month, legislation was introduced in Albany intended to give New York City more freedom to regulate interstate carriers. “I introduced a bill last month that would give the city more authority to crack down on bus companies by requiring them to get permits,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said in a statement released by Schumer’s office. On Sunday, Silver said he wanted to wait for the results of the investigation in the Bronx, but he hoped the tragedy would provide an impetus for passing the legislation.